Generally speaking, each sport has the same basic set of rules that all players, coaches, and league admins must follow. The following represents a highlight of the rules that the league administrators have deemed the most important for all players and coaches to know, understand, and abide by. These rules generally pertain to the way the league conducts itself, and not the sport itself. For rules about how to play the sport itself, please refer to the "Official Rules" tab.
As a player, you are responsible for knowing all official rules of the game. By participating in the league, you are agreeing that you are aware of all rules associated with the league and the sport, and agree to abide by them at all times.
Pitch Count: All batters start with a count of 1 ball and 1 strike.
Home Runs: Home runs are limited in this league. Each team is allotted TWO home runs without penalty. All home runs hit over the fence that are higher than the allotted total of home runs is automatically counted as an "out".
White Line: League Joe does not use the white line in the outfield for any specific purpose.
Pinch Runners: As a general rule, one runner per gender each inning. Exceptions can be made for injury situations only!
Outfielders Cannot Throw Out a Runner Going to First Base: At the point the outfielder touches the ball, they may not attempt to throw out a runner advancing to first base from the batter's box. They may, however, throw to first base to check a runner who has rounded the base in an attempt to go to second base.
Female Walk Rule: If a male batter is walked with a female batter coming up to bat, the female batter is given the option to choose an automatic walk or to hit as normal. The male walked batter will automatically be awarded second base regardless if the female batter chooses to bat. This should always be up to the discretion of the batters and coaches should not remove the bat from any player's hands who wishes to hit.
Automatic Walk Rule (aka the JoshK rule): A pitcher may signal for an automatic walk only when the batter has reached the batter's box and signaled the umpire for a walk. While recognized as a strategic play, automatic walks are highly discouraged during general seasonal play.
No DH Rule: All players who are able to bat must also play at least one inning of defense in the field. An exception to this rule may be made in the case a player does not wish to play defense for some reason (injury, fear, caution) so long as both coaches agree to the exception.
Paid Players Rule: At all times, players who pay for and register appropriately for leagues must be given priority consideration for playing time over a substitute player. Paid players can sit a small amount of time for the purpose of defensive rotation, however no paid player should ever be placed in a situation where they receive considerably less playing time than an individual who paid and registered to play fully.
In a recreational league, the safety of the players and the enjoy-ability of the game take the utmost priority. The following are common courtesy rules that are often judgement calls and will be enforced when necessary. While not technically against the rules of the game, all players are asked to be aware of and respect common field courtesy to help ensure all participants have fun.
Try to Avoid Hitting the Ball at the Pitcher
The pitcher is the most dangerous position on the field, and a mistimed swing can result in a serious injury. Try to avoid making line-drive contact with balls up the middle. If you need help adjusting your swing, please consult your coach. We have impleneted pitcher safety screens to asssit with this. Any batted ball striking the pitching screen is considered a foul ball.
Avoid Unnecessary & Dangerous Throws
When playing outfield or fielding a ball that lands far away from the action on the field, take care and please do not force throws that are unlikely to result in an out. For example, a player receiving a ground ball in left field should not attempt to throw the runner out at first, even if that runner is slow or injured. The velocity required to throw from the outfield to the infield can result in a dangerous situation if your throw is inaccurate, or either the baseman or the base runner are not paying attention.
These are guidelines and rules for the league that all coaches must acknowledge and follow. Please review all rules carefully.
The following are the rules that coaches have all agreed to for the LeagueJoe league. These may differ slightly from USSSA rules or park rules, so umpires may not be aware. Please self-police and enforce these rules for your team!
COACHES GOLDEN RULE: All decisions for your team come down to you and you alone. You should not invite other players to participate in rule discussions, or allow them to participate in debates over rule disagreements. As coaches, we will at times disagree and may even sometimes get testy with one another, but it is important that we keep these discussions to the back of the house and do not allow rule issues to spill over to the general players. Keep it fun for everyone and don't let the inmates run the asylum ;)
Hitting Up the Middle
This is one of the most controversial areas of softball, and also the hardest to control. As coaches, we expect for you to generally treat a hard hit ball up the middle as something to be corrected, not something to be celebrated. In more competitive leagues, some players have the ability to purposefully drive the ball at the pitcher in retaliation or out of spite and/or anger, and we must always emphatically avoid such behavior or even talks and threats of such behavior.
If you are coaching a player/players with a tendency to hit up the middle, we recommend the following general coaching guidelines:
- Don't encourage "hustle" plays when the ball comes dangerously close to the pitcher
- Offer a loud apology to the pitcher, loud enough for your player to hear as well. Encourage the same behavior
- Many new players have a tendancy to drive the ball up the middle while swinging at low, outside corner pitches. Help them understand that this may be why its happening, and help them learn to pull those pitches or lay off them entirely.
If you are coaching and your team has a few line drives come towards your own pitcher:
- Do not let "mob mentality" take over your team! Some players, including the pitcher, may take offense and accuse the other team of "dirty" play. Don't let this attitude prevail, as the extreme majority of dangerous hits are accidental, not intentional.
- If a pattern is forming, pull the opposite coach over and make them aware that your players are beginning to get irked. Have that coach give his/her own players a quick notice to try to ease tensions.
- As mentioned above, many balls pitched low and outside have a tendancy to come back towards the pitcher. If you notice the pitcher missing heavily into this space, try to coach them to pitch more inside.
Substitute players are allowed for a team ONLY when the total number of rostered players is less than 10. If you are expecting less than 10, you may use the LeagueJoe alternates list to select a player of near value to a player you lost.
It is your responsibility to inform the opposing coach who your sub is and who they are replacing. When using a sub from the LeagueJoe alternates list, you may play and bat them anywhere in the lineup you feel comfortable.
Occasionally, emergencies dictate non-LJ approved subs need to be used or a player of equivalent value is not available. In these case, the substitute players must bat at the bottom of the order and play "non-essential" positions in the field (catcher, right field, 2nd base - in that order)
If you only have 9 players, the opposing team will loan you a catcher to play defense exclusively while they are batting. Catcher will need to rotate if the catcher comes up to hit. Catcher will perform to the best of their ability if called into action, but the pitcher should attempt to cover home plate for any plays to home. The team loaning the catcher should not "force throws" or unnecessarily send runners from 3rd base simply because they know the catcher is limited.
There is no such thing as a commissioner-approved substitution.
The league commissioner makes guidelines for subs and approves full time roster changes, but is not and cannot be expected to approve each substitute needed/used in each game across the league. Therefore, it is imperative that the coaches meet prior to the game being player to share rosters and substitute information at that time. If a coach believes a substitute is illegal or is too strong compared to missing player, the coach has the responsibility to resolve the issue with the coach to create the most fair play scenario possible. That may involve a coach making concessions to play certain players in certain positions, or bat them in certain places in the lineup. Whatever the case is, this must be addressed prior to the game start.
Stuff happens. People no show, subs go missing, coaches have bad weeks - it happens. Sometimes, the choice is picking up an illegal sub or not having a full team. At all times, playing the game is the top priority, so just talk through the logistics and make it as fair and competitive a game as possible. And once the coin flip ends, both coaches need to feel satisfied that their teams are in a position to win as fairly as possible.